Forum Archive : Variations

Joker cube

From:   Joe Russell
Date:   2 May 2011
Subject:   Joker Cube
Forum: Forums

While attending Justin and Rynell Nunez's wedding, I had a discussion with
Tom Fahland of the San Diego Backgammon Club concerning his new backgammon
invention -- the Joker Cube.

The Joker Cube is a second cube that is placed in the center at the start
of the game. It has no numbers. It is used by either player to force a re-
roll. Once a player uses it, the other player has possession of it, like
the regular cube.

I think it would be a very interesting side-event at a tournament and am
interested in what others think. I like the idea of the Joker Cube being
employed anytime before a man has been borne-off, as I think it would slow
play considerably once the bear-off had begun, especially against anchors,
while players considered using it or not, although playing with a clock
could alleviate this problem.

Bob Koca  writes:

There a few rules that need clarification.

1) Can it be used on the opening roll? If so is it both players again

2) Suppose that A has cube access, rolls, and then the reroll option is
   invoked (by either player). Before rerolling can A cube?

Tom Fahland  writes:

My thoughts were this: make backgammon even more skill and less luck. How
many times have we played great to loose to a 35-1/17-1 shot!

As far as the question about opening roll, yes it could be used then but I
would imagine that would be a mistake, ie, giving away the power of the
joker cube to a mere 3-1 opening seems like a waste.

This cube would also modify your play depending on if you owned it or not
(ie, you are blitzing, he has 2 men on the bar, you can leave him a double
5 to come in and hit, etc, things like that). I just think it adds a
measurable amount of increased skill and that same amount of less luck?

Steve Mellen  writes:

The strategies would be interesting. Despite the name of the variation,
saving your cube until your opponent hits a 17-1 or 35-1 shot is almost
surely suboptimal. The math changes even for simple situations -- imagine
the power of the joker cube in a simple pay-now decision, for example. A
12-number shot becomes a 4-number shot if you can force your opponent to
roll a hitting number twice in a row. Thus, a standard position with a
racing lead against an anchor becomes much stronger, which in turn affects
the value of many other positions.
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